When can I apply for an annulment?
You can apply for an annulment at any time if:
- the bankruptcy order should not have been made, for example because the proper steps were not taken when obtaining the order
- all your bankruptcy debts and the fees and expenses of the bankruptcy proceedings have been either paid in full or secured (guaranteed) to the satisfaction of the court
- you have reached an agreement called an "individual voluntary arrangement" with your creditors to repay all or part of your debts - you can obtain more information about voluntary arrangements by viewing Bankruptcy alternatives
How do I apply for an annulment?
How you apply for an annulment depends on the reasons for the annulment.
If the bankruptcy order should not have been made
You should apply under Article 256(1)(a) of the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, and these are the steps:
- get an application form from the High Court
- make an affidavit (a written statement of the relevant facts that is sworn on oath or affirmed, usually before a solicitor) saying why the bankruptcy order should not have been made
- send or take to the court the completed form and affidavit - the court will then set a date to hear your application, and you should attend the hearing
- before the hearing, you must notify the Official Receiver, the person who petitioned for your bankruptcy and the trustee (if an insolvency practitioner has been appointed as trustee in place of the Official Receiver) of the date, time and place of the hearing - you should do this in enough time for them to attend the hearing - at the same time, you should send each of them copies of your application form and affidavit
- soon after the hearing, the fees and expenses of bankruptcy will have to be paid - the court will decide who should pay them when it considers your application
If all the bankruptcy debts and fees and expenses have been paid, or security has been given
You should apply under Article 256(1)(b) of the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, and these are the steps:
- get an application form from the High Court
- make an affidavit setting out details of your assets and debts at the date of the bankruptcy order and details of the payments you have made or how you have secured payment of the debts
- send or take the form and affidavit to the court - the court will then set a date to hear your application, which you should attend
- you must notify the official receiver and the trustee of the date, time and place of the hearing - you should do this at least 28 days before the hearing - you should also send copies of your application form and affidavit to the Official Receiver and the trustee
- the Official Receiver or the trustee will send a report to the court to confirm that your debts have been paid or secured - the report may also comment on your conduct in the bankruptcy
If your creditors have agreed to an individual voluntary arrangement
You should apply under Article 235 of the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, and these are the steps:
- the insolvency practitioner nominated to deal with your case will call a meeting of your creditors
- if your creditors agree to your offer to pay them, you can apply to the High Court for an annulment. This application can be made 28 days after the chairman of the meeting of creditors has reported the results of the meeting to the court
- the application should be made using the same procedure as applications where the bankruptcy order should not have been made - the only difference is that your affidavit accompanying the application form should state that your creditors have approved a voluntary arrangement as the grounds on which you are making your application
If your creditors have agreed to a fast-track voluntary arrangement
You should apply under Article 237D of the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, and these are the steps:
- when you nominate the Official Receiver to deal with your proposal for a voluntary arrangement, if he believes that your proposal has a reasonable prospect of being approved and implemented, he will invite creditors to consider it
- if your creditors agree to your proposal, the Official Receiver will report that decision to the High Court and, five to seven weeks later, will apply for the bankruptcy order to be annulled
If I apply for an annulment, do I have to keep my appointment to see the Official Receiver?
Yes. You should go to the Official Receiver's office and provide any information you are asked for. The court might not annul the bankruptcy order until the Official Receiver confirms that you have done so.
Can I stop the bankruptcy order being advertised?
Yes, but you must act immediately. If you have applied, or you think you will be able to apply, for an annulment, you may be able to apply to the court for a "stay of advertisement". This should be done at once.
You should telephone the High Court and state that you wish to apply for a stay of advertisement of the bankruptcy order. You should also inform the Official Receiver that you are making this application.
The Official Receiver must advertise the bankruptcy order in a newspaper and in "The Belfast Gazette" (an official publication which contains legal notices). These actions can only be stopped by a court order.
What will happen to public records of your bankruptcy
A public record will be kept in a number of places.
The Insolvency Register is maintained by the Bankruptcy and Chancery Office at the High Court and contains records of all insolvencies in Northern Ireland for the last ten years.
Land Registry/Registry of Deeds
Bankruptcy petitions and orders are registered at the Registry of Deeds against your name and may be recorded against documents of title in the Land Registry. If your petition is dismissed or you are discharged from bankruptcy you can vacate your registration in the Registry of Deeds by completing Form 11 (for the petition) or form 13 (for the order) of the Registration of Deeds Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997 and lodging at the Registry of Deeds. There will be a charge of £4.
If notice of the presentation of the petition or the bankruptcy order has been given to the Land Registry the Order of Annulment should include provision permitting cancellation of any entry in the Land Registry or notice of the petition or any bankruptcy inhibition against your title as the registered owner of the land. You should take a copy of the Order to the Land Registry to have the cancellation made.
Credit reference agencies
The Official Receiver does not send any form of notice to credit reference agencies. The agencies pick up information from other sources such as the Insolvency Register, advertisements of bankruptcies in newspapers, "The Belfast Gazette" and the "Belfast Telegraph", and the Enforcement of Judgements Office.
Even if you have obtained a stay of advertisement, the Official Receiver may have needed to notify some of your creditors about the bankruptcy order. If the Official Receiver has informed anyone about the order he will also notify them of the annulment.